Insight into the charge transfer in particulate Ta3N5 photoanode with high photoelectrochemical performance
Charge separation is one of the most critical factors for generating solar fuels via photoelectrochemical water splitting, but it is still not well understood. This work reveals the fundamental role of charge transfer in photoanodes for achieving high charge separation efficiency. Specifically, we fabricated a particulate Ta3N5 photoanode by a bottom-up method. By improving the charge separation with refined necking treatment, the photocurrent is increased by two orders of magnitude. The charge separation efficiency (ηsep) is analyzed by dividing it into charge generation efficiency (Φgene) and transportation efficiency (Φtrans). Necking treatment is found to substantially improve the electron transfer. Transient photovoltage (TPV) measurements based on the Dember effect is used to confirm the benefit of necking treatment in improving the charge transportation. The superior electron transfer in the necked-Ta3N5 electrode is further evidenced by the facile electron exchange reaction with the ferri/ferrocyanide redox couple. Moreover, cobalt phosphate is found to promote both charge separation and surface reaction, resulting in a photocurrent of 6.1 mA cm−2 at 1.23 V vs. RHE, which is the highest response for a particulate photoanode.